The Year Observed

Oh, Snapchat! And 2013’s Other Tech Winners and Losers

Buddies! Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Tumblr founder David Karp. (Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Snapchat’s Staying Power

Despite being a picture-messaging app whose missives disappear in seconds, Snapchat made clear that it wants to stay on the tech scene for years to come.

Invented by fraternity brothers at Stanford University in 2011, the start-up is still profitless, but it hasn’t lacked for buzz in 2013—or controversy. In February, Snapchat achieved the ultimate start-up status symbol by being embroiled in a lawsuit by a spurned frenemy named Reggie Brown. He claimed that founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy stole the idea from him, in a Social Network-esque lawsuit. Read More

Shakeups

Deposed Jetsetter CEO Drew Patterson Named the CEO of Room 77, a Hotel Search Startup

drew-16

Skift broke the news today that former Jetsetter cofounder Drew Patterson was named the new CEO of Room 77, a hotel price comparison startup that raised almost $44 million in funding from investors like Expedia, Concur, Bob Pittman, and General Catalyst Partners.

Mr. Patterson was CEO of Jetsetter–a flash sales luxury travel site operated independently under the Gilt Groupe umbrella–for more than three years until Gilt Groupe chairman Kevin Ryan asked him to step down last May. The move by Jetsetter’s board followed an exodus of senior executives, low morale, and fears of a “mutiny” among staffers.  Read More

Shakeups

Report: Gilt Puts Jetsetter Up for Sale at Around $50 Million [UPDATED]

Mr. Ryan (Photo: Invoke Media)

After a tumultuous spring that led to staffer mutiny and the ouster of CEO Drew Patterson, Gilt Groupe has decided to put its travel site up for sale, according to sources who talked to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports that the company has been shopping around Jetsetter for the past few weeks with an asking price around $50 million, but so far no interested bidders have taken the bait. Read More

Shakeups

Kevin Ryan Asks Jetsetter CEO Drew Patterson to Step Down After ‘Mutiny’ From Staffers

Mr. Patterson via @jetsetdrew

Gilt Groupe founder Kevin Ryan and chairman Susan Lyne spent Monday at the offices of Jetsetter, a deals site for luxury travel that operates independently under the Gilt Groupe umbrella. When the day was done, the Jetsetter board, where Mr. Ryan serves as chairman, approved a bold decision in response to an exodus of six senior executives and pervasive frustration among Jetsetter’s nearly 90 employees. “More than half of us are looking to leave within the next month, at which point the business won’t be operational,” a Jetsetter employee told Betabeat last week, recounting “mutiny” among staffers.

“Drew [Patterson, the company’s CEO and cofounder] is going to step down effective immediately,” Mr. Ryan told Betabeat by phone this morning. In his stead, Mr. Ryan named Rob Deeming, Gilt Groupe’s director of strategy and operations, and Mr. Ryan’s former “chief of staff,” as acting general manager of Jetsetter. Mr. Deeming had been in charge of Jetsetter’s UK office, which was launched last September.

Mr. Ryan said the change at the top was motivated by turnover and morale. “Too many people have left. When you’re the CEO, you’re responsible for that. We’ve had a lot of communication over the last six months on this issue. At a certain point, for myself, you make a change.”

Interviews with staffers, who spoke under condition of anonymity last week, painted the picture of a company hampered by Mr. Patterson’s and CTO Colin Kroll’s unwillingness to listen to and implement other people’s ideas–at the expense of employees eager to grow the brand. The initiatives that the duo had put forward, such as a UK office, had flopped, sources said. “They talk to themselves and they think they’re smarter than everybody, but they don’t know how their customer works,” said another Jetsetter staffer, referring to Mr. Patterson and Mr. Kroll. “We have great members, we want to keep them happy.” Read More

Daily Daze

Jetsetter CEO Drew Patterson On Hiring His First CMO, Scaling Up, and ‘Gossipy Tech Blogs’

Mr. Patterson via @jetsetdrew

Today, Jetsetter, the luxury vacation deals site (think flash sales on villas in St. Vincent or a pied-à-terre in Paris) announced the appointment of its first-ever chief marketing officer, Barry Herstein. A former CMO at PayPal, American Express, and the Financial Times Group, most recently Mr. Herstein was responsible for revitalizing Snapfish, the photo sharing and printing service, after a decline in revenue growth.

(Ex-Snapfishers seemed to be everywhere these days. Former Snapfish CEO Ben Nelson recently set his sights on reimagining an Ivy League experience at half the cost.)

Betabeat chatted with Jetsetter CEO Drew Patterson about the need for a CMO, Jetsetter’s role within the Gilt Groupe family, and those pesky tech blogs. Read More

Websites

Jetsetter: We Got Our Domain for Just $3k

jetsetta

You can still snag a good .tv or a billiant .ki, but the .com land grab was over a long time ago. Most catchy, easily-remembered names are taken, either by legitimate companies or squatters, and there’s not much you can do about it. But there are still good deals to be had, we learned from Jetsetter founder Drew Patterson’s musings on Quora. (Jetsetter is a Gilt Groupe affiliate, a members-only site for deals on high-end travel.) Read More